JimRides... from Northern Cumbria in the UK

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by JimRidesThis, Mar 13, 2016.

  1. JimRidesThis

    JimRidesThis Local celebrity

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    Many thanks @FotoTEX, Skye is a special place for sure. Mrs JimRidesThis and I spent part of our honeymoon there over 30 years ago. I find the west coast of Scotland vibe is a very different now although the scenery hasn’t changed. Enjoy your anniversary trip!



    Do it! Just avoid the midge season :D April/May is a fantastic time to be up there.
  2. FotoTEX

    FotoTEX Long timer

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    JimRides This- Curious as to how Skye's Vibe has changed? Is it over-run with tourist? Started going there 40 years ago and also have noticed small changes. One being it is more expensive each time we go. Going in Mid Sept.
  3. mak595

    mak595 n00b

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    Think the NC500 is a victim of its own sucess, still going early september :1drink
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  4. JimRidesThis

    JimRidesThis Local celebrity

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    Apologies @FotoTEX, I’ve only just seen this. How has Skye changed? Well, I’ve been going up there for a similar length of time as yourself and several things spring to mind.

    1. It’s now possible to buy things (e.g. fuel, groceries, etc.) on Sunday’s, at least in the morning. The ‘wee Free’ influence doesn’t seem to be dominate like it used to. This is probably been helped by an influx of ‘outsiders’, Internet shopping, national politics and the 21st century in general.

    2. There’s a bridge over to Skye. I miss the ferry (kind of). Next time I’m up that way I’ll use the Glenelg ferry before they close it down.

    3. Roads to/from the Island have been ‘improved’. A retrograde step in my opinion, I really liked the old road from Fort William to Mallaig and from Armadale to Broadford.

    4. The vastly increased number of tourists in the summer. I just don’t go to the Highlands in the summer anymore, for me it’s a place where you should be able to find some solitude and a wild camping spot. Now, it
    seems to be clogged up with campervans, caravans and sports cars doing the NC500. The road network and local services infrastructure just isn’t developed enough to cope with those high levels of traffic and visitors.

    5. Costs. You’re right, everything seems to have increased exponentially. Camping (on a campsite) and accommodation especially are not cheap. Fuel is always top-dollar on the island too, but then that’s always been my experience.

    Some things haven’t changed though - the scenery is still stunning and there are plenty of midges!
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  5. JimRidesThis

    JimRidesThis Local celebrity

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    Yep, September’s a great time to go. I’m going up to Achiltibuie the second weekend in September I think.
  6. Shaggie

    Shaggie Unseen University Supporter

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    Hi Jim :wave
  7. JimRidesThis

    JimRidesThis Local celebrity

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    Hello Shane et al :wave, I’ve been out riding :-)

    Here’s a visual taster of the trip...

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    ...a ride report and more photos will follow... :D :wave
  8. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

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    Guess we can safely say your trip was not in the UK!!!
  9. JimRidesThis

    JimRidesThis Local celebrity

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    You’re right, but if like Shaggie you happen to knock about in a LearJet :hmmmmm, it’s all comfortably within a couple of hours from home Dave:rofl.
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  10. Shaggie

    Shaggie Unseen University Supporter

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    DD4E0136-EBE7-409E-A65D-BA5B91EB3062.jpeg Not quite a LearJet but as close as I’m likely to get! :lol3
  11. JimRidesThis

    JimRidesThis Local celebrity

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    I know, I'm dragging my heels over the words and pictures of my trip to the Spanish Pyrenees.

    But, by way of yet another worthwhile 'displacement activity', here are some photos taken last weekend - a couple of nights camping in Sutherland in Scotland's far north-west with some good friends I've not seen for a few years. Eventually I'll post some more, along with some words.


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    The view from the tent :D

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    And look at that road :D


    More to follow...
  12. JimRidesThis

    JimRidesThis Local celebrity

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    Day 1:

    Now is meant to be Thursday midday-ish, but is in fact the middle of Friday afternoon. Therefore, at least a day behind schedule I leave Mhor Bread’s premises on Callander High Street, two steak pies* in hand, hop back on the TDM and point the front wheel north again.

    *In these days of Mediterranean diets and mass quinoa consumption, a steak pie from Mhor Bread could be seen as a risky proposition, but they are absolutely delicious, the best I have ever had. If you find yourself within 50 miles, do make sure you to call in.

    Destination for the weekend is Altandhu, Sutherland in the far North-West of Scotland, meeting up with old biking friends to remember another old biking friend, Geoff Francis, who passed away in the summer. Port a Bhaigh campsite we’ll be staying on was apparently one of Geoff’s favourites.

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    Port a Bhaigh Campsite

    I originally wanted to take two days to ride up the west coast but being so far behind schedule means a more direct route (for Scotland, that is) that includes some of the main artery to the far north, the A9. For some reason, regular users of the A9 don’t seem to like it much, not that there are any real North/South alternatives. Today it’s pretty quiet and like most of the rest of Scotland, picturesque for a tourist like myself.

    Now, I live in one of the least populated counties in England, Cumbria. Like Scotland, it is also very picturesque. I am used to mountains, rivers and lakes. I regularly work in one of the top ten tourist destinations in the UK, a world heritage site, the original home of British mountain climbing, etc. etc. But believe me, the west-coast and far north of Scotland is just something else.

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    The high road :D

    Out of solidarity with the locals, instead of taking in more of the A9 than absolutely necessary, my route takes me on the A85 for the mandatory steak pie stop in Callendar and then on to Lochearnhead, the A827 through Killin, north on the B846 to Tummel Bridge, finishing with a short hop north to the A9 on one of General Wade’s Military roads. A very pleasant alternative that actually shaves a few miles and adds a few smiles to the journey. It also adds at about ninety minutes to the ride. Result!

    North of Inverness the scenery becomes much more dramatic and as it’s now past 6pm the traffic’s thinned out to almost non existent. It’s a brilliant road over to Ullapool - open and flowing, great visibility, some tighter sections to keep you honest. It’s tempting to open the taps and recover some time but the stunning vistas and the enjoyment of simply riding helps me to keep speed in check all the way to Ullapool. A 20 mile ride north, then west, lies the setting sun, The Summer Isles and my final destination. I arrive at 9.00pm, pitch the tent, boil water for tea and finally tuck into the first of those steak pies! No rain at all on the way up.

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    Now if those cyclists would just move over to the left...

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    And relax!

    Next time...


    A little bit of this...
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  13. JimRidesThis

    JimRidesThis Local celebrity

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    Day 2: Predule (read, ‘I digress’)

    Dawn inevitably broke on day two of my trip, but I missed it because I was tucked up fast asleep.

    [ramble]... I really like my current camping set up, the tent, the camp bed, self-inflating mat and sleeping bag. It’s not minimalist; it’s been chosen, through experimentation, to mitigate for my back condition. It’s made it possible for me to camp in comfort again. I’ve spent more nights under sil-nylon this year than the previous ten years combined. I’m already thinking about camping trips next year :D

    I keep meaning to take a photo of the inside of my tent to show you set up, but within two minutes of getting my gear in it looks like a herd of bison have stampeded through the place. Honestly, I don’t know how I do it. It all starts out with some sort of logical distribution, I turn my back and the place instantly looks like tramp’s lair. A particularly untidy tramp’s lair. I’m such a disorganised camper :D. And I’ve been at it for over 45 years :jack

    I’ll endeavour to produce the heavily art directed photos at some point in the future.[/ramble]

    More Day 2 soon.
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  14. dixiethedog

    dixiethedog Day tripper

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    Subscribed. :D Ive just read and thoroughly enjoyed six pages of nicely written and beautifully photographed ramblings.
    Im not at all far from Cumbria and now feel the need to travel west and explore the area a bit more. But firstly Im off to the highlands in October.
    I'll be watching keenly for update's, thank you for sharing it all!
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  15. dixiethedog

    dixiethedog Day tripper

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    Im also having a look on the auction site and similar too see what sort of money the TDM's are going for? Ive never really considered one of these bikes but they do look very capable machines.
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  16. JimRidesThis

    JimRidesThis Local celebrity

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    Why thank you, very kind of you to say so.

    The TDM’s are a bit of a dark horse. I prefer the looks of the Mk1 850’s but the 900 is a far more practical everyday bike now. Very frugal, cheap to run, easy to ride, fast enough for everyday use, relatively light and small (I previously had an R1100GS and a 750 Africa Twin), understated looks (sort of blends in when you’re travelling).
    I guess the question is what I’d replace the TDM with? I have a shortlist of bikes that, for various reasons, come ‘close, but no cigar’ - 650XT v-strom, 800GS, Tiger 800, KTM SMT, Super Tenere, Buell Ulysses, etc. At the moment I’m content with the TDM, it’s a great bike. Cheap too!
  17. Kebabmonster

    Kebabmonster Been here awhile

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    I've stayed at the Port-a-Bhaigh site a couple of times Jim, love the setting where it's at. And dark skies make for seeing hundreds more stars than at home what with the light pollution here.

    And the boozer at the top of the hill (name escapes me), is handy for a meal and a pint (or 8 :) )

    Andy.
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  18. JimRidesThis

    JimRidesThis Local celebrity

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    Day 2: And why I really do prefer riding on my own

    Okay, we’ll see how we get on with day two because I’m not sure which photos I’ve uploaded yet. What I do know is that the most important and personally damning event of the day went unrecorded. However, I will share my shame here with you, confession is meant to be good for the soul, or is it arsehole? Anyway, with that cliffhanger presented, on with the tale.

    As I mentioned, day broke blah de blah.

    Slept like a log last night and this morning breakfast is fresh brewed coffee. I’m sat outside the tent looking over the sea to the Outer Hebrides. Surprisingly, midge activity is minimal even though there’s no breeze. Life doesn’t get much better than this.

    A second mug of coffee in hand and I hook up with SteveT (800GS), Lowflyer (1200GSA), AfricaJim (Huskvana), PaulS (RD04 Africa Twin Marathon) and the man behind ADVScotland, Craig, aka LargeWayRound (Transalp). Four others are stopping in a cottage just up the hill. I share a history with all of these guys stretching back nearly 15 years when we all sort of met through the xrv.org.uk forum. It’s great to see old faces again and catch up. AfricaJim has been here for a few days and is packing the Husky into his smart Transit Custom before heading home.

    SteveT is planning to ride up to Durness with PaulS and Lowflyer, so I invite myself along because I’ve never been to Durness. It’s about as far north and west as you can go on the mainland on your bike. The Caithness peninsula isn’t accessible to vehicles.

    The road north to Lochinver and on to Durness is simply fantastic. For the most part well-surfaced single track with passing places. The vistas are amazing. You’re amongst some of the oldest rocks in Europe and there’s little tree cover, this is what I imagine Newfoundland to be like.

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    Remembering Geoff, the main reason we’re here, I post his rally sticker “You Alright Mate” on a sign. It was only when I was sorting out the photos at home I saw I’d put it right next to a Southampton Bike Night sticker (bottom left). Southampton was where Geoff called home.

    This is part of the NC500 but today the traffic is light. Steve and Paul are ‘making progress’, John is riding marginally more sedately and I’m happy to bring up the rear taking in the views. Somewhere along the way Lowflyer hangs a left to visit a friend in Drumbeg and nurse a whisky hangover. Or was it something he ate?

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    Just south of Durness

    You know I said at the top of this post, I prefer riding alone? Well that’s for many reasons, but this isn’t one I’d predicted. Today I let my concentration lapse. I’d like to mitigate that by saying ‘for a moment’, but that’s immaterial. I let my concentration lapse and I run into the back of PaulS’s Africa Twin.

    Totally, utterly, 100%, my fault.

    Thankfully it’s a low speed pannier to pannier clash. There’s some damage to Paul’s offside aluminium pannier (and mounting rack we find out later), my nearside plastic pannier is destroyed. Most importantly nobody’s hurt, noboby’s even come off their bike, but the circumstances mean it could have been serious. I’m pissed off that I’ve damaged Paul’s immaculate AT and even more disappointed at my poor riding technique.

    More to follow. Some nice pics too :)




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  19. Critic

    Critic More or less!

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    A Yank here, I spent a lot of time Peterlee At Caterpillar Plant, loved the area. That is England and Scotland. Hadrian's Wall point, stopping in a village for lunch, that the wall passed threw; I asked the server, a local, what she new about the wall. I could look out the window at a large hill with wall showing. She had never heard of it!
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  20. JimRidesThis

    JimRidesThis Local celebrity

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    Day 2 continued...

    Right, now the embarrassing confession is out of the way, on with the good stuff!

    In Durness we stopped for coffees and grub at Cocoa Mountain where we bumped into LargeWayRound. Cocoa Mountain gets a lot of rave reviews and I think I know why; there’s basically f-all else in Durness to entertain the casual tourist! :D Just my sort of place (Durness, not Cocoa Mountain, I don’t like chocolate!)

    SteveT, PaulS and LWR were all heading east and were planning a light off-road route. I don’t really like the TDM’s off-road composure so I parted ways and headed south picking up every side road to the coast that I could...

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    A good few hours of riding time alone in spectacular scenery, proper soul food, I hardly saw another vehicle.

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    What better way to spend time than with friends?

    From L to R - JRT!, Lady Vader, Lord Vader behind PaulS, Lowflyer, PigUglyWhiskyDrinker, Hudders, SteveT (front), Outrunner (back) and finally, LargeWayRound.









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